GMC to Lincoln at the Detroit auto show

GMC to Lincoln at the Detroit auto show

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GMC

General Motors, departing from custom in its effort to create some distance between the GMC and Chevy brands, will let the redesigned Chevy Silverado full-size pickup dominate the spotlight in Detroit and is expected to showcase the sibling GMC Sierra separately.

GMC hasn’t confirmed when the Sierra will debut, but the only GM press conference scheduled for the Detroit auto show is an off-site event for Chevrolet that’s expected to be the official introduction of the 2019 Silverado. GM hasn’t unveiled the pickups separately since the first-generation Silverado debuted as part of a rodeo-themed news conference in 1998.

GM President Dan Ammann told Automotive News last month that GMC’s opportunity moving forward is to “broaden” the brand’s appeal beyond its “professional grade” customer base and seek “increased differentiation over time” between Chevy and GMC.

“It’s sort of relatively narrow,” he said. “We have an opportunity to broaden out the funnel there.”

Recent spy photos of the Sierra suggest distinct redesigned front and rear fascias compared with the Silverado.

Based on spy photos, the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 will receive a more sculpted grille, prominent GMC badging and the brand’s new signature LED running lights that debuted on the 2018 Terrain.

A freshening of the Canyon midsize pickup also is expected this year.

Michael Wayland

2018 Genesis G70

Genesis

Regardless of how many dealers sell it, Hyundai’s luxury brand is looking forward to a big 2018, thanks to the spring arrival of the G70.

The compact sports sedan is the first product designed specifically for Genesis.

It also lands in a much higher volume segment than its larger brethren, the G80 and G90.

A 2.0-liter turbocharged four- cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive will be standard; a 3.3-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 and all-wheel drive will be optional.

Genesis said the G70 completes the brand’s sedan lineup. Later in the year, a concept of the G80 successor or further concepts of the upcoming GV80 crossover could show up.

David Undercoffler

Honda

Honda comes to Detroit with its newest green machine, a resurrected Insight hybrid, hoping to stir some passion around a nameplate that pioneered gasoline-electric hybrid technology in the U.S. but never gained traction against the powerhouse Toyota Prius. The show car is billed as a prototype that will preview the 2019 model.

The third-generation Insight will be smaller than Honda’s Clarity family of electrified cars — which comprises a plug-in hybrid, a pure electric and a hydrogen fuel cell model — but larger than the Civic compact-car family.

It will use the automaker’s two-motor hybrid system. While competing vehicles from Toyota and Hyundai offer plug-in hybrid versions, don’t expect one from Honda in this nameplate because it would overlap too much with the Clarity PHEV.

Honda says the Insight will be built at its Greensburg, Ind., assembly plant, alongside the Civic and CR-V compact crossover.

This year will also mark the arrival of a freshened HR-V subcompact crossover and the Accord Hybrid. Other than that, 2018 could prove to be a quiet year for Honda, which has a lineup of recently redesigned or freshened cars and light trucks. Honda’s challenge will be maintaining sales momentum in the absence of sweeping changes to its core lineup.

Those core nameplates will make product news, though it’s unclear when. Along with the Accord Hybrid, Honda has promised plug-in hybrid versions of the Civic and CR-V.

David Undercoffler

2018 Hyundai Kona

Hyundai

Hyundai will make up for a quiet 2017 with a fast start to a product-packed 2018. Its new hydrogen fuel cell crossover debuts this week at CES in Las Vegas; Hyundai has promised greater horsepower, range and efficiency from this vehicle, which will replace the outgoing Tucson fuel cell model as a stand-alone nameplate.

Next will be the second-generation Veloster and Veloster Turbo, expected at the Detroit auto show. The Veloster is also the first U.S. nameplate to be tuned by Hyundai’s new N performance subbrand, though the N model won’t appear in Detroit.

Hyundai’s Kona subcompact crossover will hit the market toward the end of the first quarter, giving the brand a much-needed entrant in one of the industry’s hottest segments.

Later this year, Hyundai is expected to introduce a redesigned Santa Fe Sport. Styling will differ from the rest of the Hyundai line, save for the Kona, while the powertrain should carry over without significant changes.

David Undercoffler

Infiniti

Infiniti will reassert itself in Detroit with a concept for a new brand flagship. It is unclear where the concept fits in the lineup, but indications are that it will show the direction for the Q70 premium sedan.

More than three years ago, Infiniti premiered a concept for a higher-level sedan — an imagined Q80. But that concept never moved into production.

A Q70 replacement is due in late 2018, or possibly in early 2019 to sell as a 2020.

In a statement released by the company late last month, Infiniti Executive Design Director Karim Habib said the concept “will take the traditional sedan architecture to its next stage of evolution” with “a shift toward smarter, more compact and less intrusive powertrains.

“With its long cabin, balanced proportions and muscular stance, the concept heralds in a new era for Infiniti models,” Habib said.

The sedan news in Detroit will offset what will otherwise be a year dominated by focus on SUVs and crossovers for Infiniti. The brand’s biggest product offensive for 2018 will get underway in March with the market launch of the redesigned QX50.

Infiniti is pinning high hopes on that model, which two years ago unexpectedly elbowed its way into Infiniti’s short list of volume leaders after years of meager sales. The redesigned version will use a variable-compression four-cylinder engine, the first application of the engine for the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

Infiniti’s production conversation is also certain to address the future of the QX70. Production of that crossover ended last summer, and Infiniti has yet to reveal what it has in store for the segment. In 2017, Infiniti President Roland Kreuger said Infiniti is reconsidering what role the QX70 should play for the brand, suggesting that the nameplate (formerly sold as the FX) had strayed from its original market pitch as the brand’s sporty premium alternative to more utilitarian SUVs.

Infiniti will also step up marketing this year for a freshened QX80 full-size SUV, which began reaching U.S. showrooms in December. That model received a fresh front end and rear, along with updated on-board electronics and a new-generation display screen.

Lindsay Chappell

Jaguar

Jaguar is skipping the Detroit auto show this year, but not because it lacks products.

In 2018, Jaguar will have more products in its showroom than at any time in the brand’s 83-year history. And with that expanded lineup comes pressure for the British luxury brand to put up stronger sales numbers — even if industry sales have plateaued.

Joe Eberhardt, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover North America, has acknowledged that the industry shift to SUVs and crossovers has disrupted the brand’s sales projections. But Jaguar Land Rover’s product cadence — by luck or smart planning — stands a good chance of offsetting the weakness in the sedan market.

Late last year, the XF Sportbrake arrived in dealerships. The midsize wagon — Jaguar’s first in the U.S. since the X-Type a decade ago — could appeal to buyers looking for utility but who don’t want an SUV or a crossover.

Jaguar officials believe the vehicle will find a low-volume niche.

In the first quarter, Jaguar’s second crossover arrives as the E-Pace, a compact that shares its underpinnings with the Range Rover Evoque and Land Rover Discovery Sport. The E-Pace will start at $39,595, including shipping. It is powered by a 246-hp Jaguar Ingenium engine and ZF nine-speed automatic transmission. The E-Pace is likely to become the brand’s highest volume vehicle.

In late summer, Jaguar will challenge the Tesla Model X with the I-Pace, a battery-powered five-seat midsize crossover that promises 220 miles of driving on a single charge. I-Pace, built on a unique aluminum intensive platform, sports twin electric motors rated at 400 hp. Pricing is expected to start at less than six figures.

I-Pace will be manufactured by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, making it the first Jaguar sold in North America to be built outside England.

The Project 8, a wild street-legal racing version of the XE sedan, also joins the Jaguar lineup, although briefly. Only 300 will be built for all markets. The hand-built all-wheel-drive sedan is powered by 600 hp supercharged V-8, and is a product of Jaguar Land Rover’s Special Vehicle Operations. Project 8 is a one-year only model arriving this summer priced at around $190,000.

Richard Truett

2018 Jeep Wrangler

Jeep

For Jeep, 2018 promises to be an all-out run for the record books, with new, redesigned or freshened products heading to dealerships around the world as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ most valuable brand makes a mad-dash push to sell 2 million vehicles globally for the first time in its history. Luckily, Jeep was able to get off the starting blocks two months early when it launched the redesigned — and overwhelmingly well-received — 2018 Jeep Wrangler in November.

Jeep’s push toward 2 million in 2018 is the volume linchpin of FCA’s 2014-18 global product and financial plan. The SUV brand began the year in a position it’s never been in before, with production of its vehicles either ongoing or ramping up in North America, South America, Europe and Asia.

Sales were down in 2017 in the U.S., the brand’s biggest market, but most of that was planned cuts in fleet sales after the Jeep Patriot was discontinued.

At this year’s Detroit auto show, Jeep will host a press conference to highlight changes it’s made in the midcycle refresh of the Cherokee. The refresh — including a new, less polarizing front fascia and improved interior — is meant to help differentiate the Cherokee from the slightly smaller redesigned Compass that debuted in North America last year. The Cherokee refresh was delayed a year to allow production of the unibody midsize SUV to move from Toledo, Ohio, to Belvidere, Ill., to make more room in Toledo to build more Wranglers.

Jeep’s Italian-built Renegade subcompact crossover will get a midcycle freshening in 2018 as well and is likely to make its debut at the New York auto show this spring. Early spy shots show only small changes to the Renegade’s “cute-ute” exterior, but full details won’t be available until later.

In November, Jeep will begin building its long-awaited Wrangler-based pickup, the Jeep Scrambler, after a retooling shutdown of the south side of FCA US’ Toledo Assembly Complex. The Scrambler is likely to make its official debut at the 2018 Los Angeles Auto Show, as the Wrangler did in 2017, and show up at U.S. dealerships the following January. The Scrambler is expected to share most of its interior features with the redesigned 2018 Wrangler and also will come with an available soft top and removable doors.

Larry P. Vellequette

Kia

The Stinger sport sedan went national at the end of 2017, but 2018 will be the true test of consumers’ appetite for a performance-oriented Kia that can top $50,000.

This will also be the first full year on the market for the Niro plug-in hybrid crossover; this iteration promises 26 miles of electric-only range on a charge, a 560-mile overall range and 139 total hp.

Kia will kick off the auto show season in Detroit with the likely reveal of a concept that will preview the next-generation Forte due for 2019.

Later this year, expect the debut of the third-generation Kia Soul and possibly another pass at the well-received Telluride large luxury crossover concept from the 2016 Detroit auto show.

David Undercoffler

Lamborghini

Lamborghini’s year will be all about the Urus, the Italian brand’s first crossover and its expected best-seller. The vehicle, revealed last year to journalists, uses the same Volkswagen Group steel platform as the Bentley Bentayga and the Audi Q7, but it is lightened to bring the weight to about 4,600 pounds.

The twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine is also from the VW Group, but tuned to produce 650 hp. The U.S. is expected to be the crossover’s biggest market, but the Urus won’t make its auto show debut in Detroit — expect to see it first at the Geneva auto show in March.

Nick Gibbs

Land Rover

It won’t be on display at the Detroit auto show with Land Rover absent from the 2018 event. But the brand’s just-launched Velar — already its top-selling vehicle — will likely keep Land Rover busy through 2018.

JLR is scaling back its auto show activities, focusing mostly on shows in the company’s biggest sales markets. JLR has amped up its social media presence, showing new models, features and design cues on Facebook and Twitter.

What Detroit showgoers will miss is a model that retains Land Rover’s rugged off-road capability, but with a suspension system tuned to deliver comfortable on-road performance. The Velar’s interior, with two screens and simplified controls, points the way to a new design language for the brand.

The Land Rover stable is fresh for 2018. Feeling pressure from Bentley’s $229,000 Bentayga and an upcoming Rolls-Royce SUV, Land Rover late last year introduced the most expensive and opulent Range Rover yet, the $208,000 SVAutobiography.

The ultraluxury long-wheelbase SUV features a 557-hp supercharged V-8, rides on 21- or 22-inch wheels and comes with two-tone paint and special interior trim, as well as an array of safety and convenience features and other cosmetic upgrades. Fully loaded, its price climbs to $214,710 with shipping.

Land Rover also launched a luxurious Discovery last year, which takes the model upmarket and clears the way for the next Range Rover — due in about two years — to climb in size and price.

Mule versions of the upcoming Defender have been spotted testing on British roads, and it’s possible the rugged off-road vehicle will break cover in concept form sometime this year ahead of its launch in late 2019 or early 2020.

Richard Truett

2018 Lexus LF-1 Limitless

Lexus

Lexus may have invented the luxury crossover with its best-selling RX, but it sure has fallen behind in exploring the top end of the class. That could change in Detroit with the LF-1 Limitless concept, which Lexus bills as its flagship crossover.

A teaser shot, looking down at the left rear hatch with its wraparound taillight, certainly suggests a continuation of production derivatives of the LF-LC concept first shown in Detroit in 2012.

Overall, Lexus General Manager Jeff Bracken has promised no fewer than two dozen models that are either new or special editions in the new year. Some are likely to be F performance derivatives that are a step above the mostly cosmetic F Sport trim levels, particularly for the LC and LS. Others, Bracken has said, will be anniversary editions and concepts.

But that leaves the door open for some surprises when it comes to production models, particularly on the crossover side. While Lexus’ aging body-on-frame SUVs have done an impressive job maintaining sales, the hulking cruisers certainly don’t fit into the brand’s stated plans to produce vehicles with better driving dynamics.

After killing off its entry-level CT hybrid, Lexus is working on a new one based on the UX crossover concept first shown in 2016. Given that Toyota already has started selling its subcompact C-HR crossover, development of a Lexus version with the obvious upgrades in styling and technology shouldn’t be too far behind.

As it fills out its crossover lineup, Lexus also could consolidate its poorly selling sedans as it moves them to the new global architecture. The IS, ES and GS, perhaps, could morph into just two models that mostly fulfill the three sedans’ current roles through a broader variety of trim levels.

Laurence Iliff

2019 Lincoln Nautilus

Lincoln

Lincoln has no vehicle debuts planned for the Detroit show, but it’s expected to display the Nautilus and freshened MKC crossovers it unveiled in November.

Ford’s luxury brand is counting on another strong year in 2018 to help it inch closer to 300,000 global sales by 2020.

A full year of sales for its redesigned Navigator SUV should help, and brand executives expect continued rapid growth in China, too. The brand is ditching its “MK” vehicle names in an effort to appeal to new customers with names that have a stronger emotional connection.

Lincoln normally has a strong presence at the New York auto show in the spring, and it could use that event to reveal a large crossover, expected to be called the Aviator, to replace its slow-selling MKT.

Aside from new products, Lincoln is trying some different sales models as alternatives to traditional dealer showrooms.

In China, it’s piloting online-only stores using virtual reality and mobile phone technology, popup-like mobile sales centers and mini delivery centers with room for a couple of show cars and service bays. In the U.S., it has opened two Lincoln Experience Centers that don’t sell vehicles but help immerse new customers in the brand.

Michael Martinez

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